Going out every night. Coming home late. Changing social circles. Acting moody. Locking her doors. These are all signs your daughter may exhibit if she is using drugs. They are also signs of typical teenage behavior.
As a parent, you are constantly looking out for your child’s health and safety. You have recently noticed some changes in her behaviors and are now concerned that she may be using drugs. Before you confront the situation, though, you want to gather as much information as you can. Where do you start? Are there tell-tale signs that your growing girl is drinking or using drugs? How will you know if and when it is time to intervene?
While there is not an easy way to determine if your loved one is using drugs, there are certain warning signs you can look for. Below are the most prominent signs of drug use in women and teenage girls.
Physical Signs of Drug Use in Women:
As a parent, the first and most obvious signs to look for are the ones that are concrete, visual evidence of substance abuse. If you notice any of these physical signs of drug use, confront your daughter and ask her straightforward questions such as, “Have you been using drugs?”:
- Bloodshot eyes or changes to the pupil size
- Impaired coordination such as difficulty walking, slurred speech, and shakes or tremors
- Hyperactivity – Some of the most prominent signs of cocaine addiction or stimulant use are hyperactivity, alertness, or overly energetic behavior
- Lethargy – Some substances such as benzodiazepines can make a user feel more relaxed or drowsy
- Sudden changes in weight – Some substances cause weight gain, while others suppress the appetite and speed up the metabolism
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive tiredness
- Frequent itching or picking at the skin
- Unexplained seizures
- Marks on the skin (particularly the arms or legs) are tell-tale signs of intravenous drug use
- Evidence of substance use or drug paraphernalia in the home
Behavioral Signs of Drug Use in Young Women:
Perhaps you haven’t witnessed your loved one using drugs or haven’t seen her when she’s come home intoxicated. Still, you are suspicious. You believe she is acting funny, or unlike her normal self.
Everyone has their own habits and routines. As a parent, you likely know your daughter’s habits better than most. So when you notice that they change, you have a right to be concerned. Drug use can cause many behavioral changes in young women. Beyond sleeping too much or not eating enough, there are certain indicative signs of drug use that may reflect in your daughter’s behavior. These include:
- A lack of motivation at school, work, or even at home
- Decreased productivity levels at school, work, or home
- Increased impulse to take risks
- Lack of concern for personal hygiene or outward appearance
- Loss of interest in once meaningful activities such as exercising or personal hobbies
- Re-prioritization and replacement of activities that she used to enjoy
- Neglect of previous relationships or withdrawal from old social circles
- Relationship issues – Young women who use drugs often become defensive and act out if someone tries to talk to them about their substance problem
- Unusual or unexplained need to borrow money
- Secrecy, isolation, unexplained accidents, avoiding conversation and hiding things behind closed doors
Psychological Signs of Drug Use in Women:
Slight moodiness and changes in personality are not uncommon among teenage girls. But if your loved one is experiencing drastic or inexplicable shifts in demeanor, it is possible that drug use may be the underlying cause. Most often, the psychological signs of drug use are short-term. With regular, ongoing use, however, it is possible that they could lead to more severe, long-term mental effects in women. Some of these initial signs include:
- Changes in personality such as increased aggressiveness, belligerence, and hostility
- Sudden symptoms of co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, paranoia, or depression
- Diminished short-term memory
- Loss of concentration and increased confusion
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Loss of control
- Compulsive cravings for drugs
- The inability to quit drug use as a result of psychological dependence
If you are apprehensive that your loved one – whether daughter, sister, friend or partner – is using drugs, do not hesitate to intervene. Ask her if she has been using drugs, who offered them to her, and express your concerns. Early intervention is one of the most impactful ways you can prevent young people from spiraling into the addiction cycle. And this is especially true for young women, who are quicker to develop substance use disorders and drug-related health problems than males.
Most importantly, it is important to stay aware and know that there is help where you and your loved one need it most. Educate yourself, your family, and your friends on the effects of drugs on women and know what to look for when you think someone you know may have a drug problem.
For help on how to detect a certain type of drug use in young adults, take a look at our drug-specific Signs of Addiction pages. To learn more about a treatment plan for your loved one, call Turnbridge at 877-581-1793.